Remember that no matter how big or small the deeds we do for others, they make a difference and in some cases a life-changing one. This is exactly what happened to a homeless veteran who had been missing for 40 years.
Stephanie and Al Blackbird were shopping at a Whole Foods in North Scottsdale, Arizona, on Dec. 23, 2018, when their attention wandered to a homeless man in the store, who looked confused.
“We saw him just holding this five dollar bill and just kind of wondering [sic] around,” said Stephanie to ABC15. “He didn’t look well… He looked lost and I couldn’t walk away, I couldn’t in good conscience walk away without at least checking on this man.”
“I was still concerned and before we left the store, I found him again and he looked very unwell,” she wrote on a GoFundMe page that she later started for him.
“I approached him and asked if he needed help to find something.”
“He said he needed sugar because he felt weak from low blood sugar. After getting him some candy, I realized he was very very thin, and needed more than candy. We got him a sandwich and some water, and got him seated while I visited with him.”
No champagne 🥂 No fireworks 💥 No big parties 🎉 But I do think we made someone’s New Year’s Eve just a little bit brighter 😍😍😍#TheChroniclesOfAlan
The couple then “made a connection” while the man, later recognized as Alan Vandevander, explained that he was homeless and had lived in a desert for over 20 years.
After helping the fragile and obviously emaciated man buy some food, they said goodbye to him.
But Alan Vandevander didn’t remain too far from the couple’s thoughts. Thus the next morning, a day before Christmas, bearing gifts and a meal, and with the few scant details he had given them to his whereabouts, the couple set out on a mission in the desert to find him.
Two hours later, they stumbled upon his camp.
“He said I’m glad they found me cause I was in trouble,” said Stephanie.
❤️ 💞 Getting a hug from this man means the world! We have come a long way baby! If you haven’t been following the story, click on this Hashtag. 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼#TheChroniclesOfAlan
The couple went on to become friends with Vandevander and discovered he had quite a past.
The man had lost contact with his family and had been living in the desert in Arizona for decades.
Vandevander hadn’t been in contact with his family for 40 years, but the Blackbirds found out that he still had a family living in Indiana.
His two sisters had searched for him for years but never had any clues as to where he might be, or what had happened to him.
“I thought my brother was, gone,” Vandevander’s sister Julie told ABC15.
Meanwhile, the couple also brought him food supplies and convinced him to go to the hospital.
It was discovered that he was suffering from malnutrition and had previously had a heart attack.
But that wasn’t all. To their surprise, they discovered that Vandevander was a decorated veteran from the Vietnam war—he had been awarded the Purple Heart.
After nearly 40 years, Julie reunited with her big brother “Buzzy,” as she called him, after she flew to Phoenix in January.
I am so happy to say that my brother, Alan "Buzzy" VanDevander has been found alive in Arizona. He has been missing from…
Their emotional reunion kept the siblings talking for hours, with Julie finding it all a bit unbelievable.
“It’s just a miracle,” Julie said. “I walked in the room and it was over.”
“I dropped my purse, I ran over to him, I got on his bed with him and I hugged him. There was no thinking anymore it was natural.”
UPDATE! ABC news in Phoenix will have a follow up story at 10:00pm about #TheChroniclesOfAlan with the reunion with his beautiful sister Julie Cromley❣️
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) January 25, 2019
Vandevander now remains in the hospital and has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
He is too weak to have any conventional treatment, so will be supported by alternative health treatments.
Meanwhile, the GoFundMe page that the Blackbirds set up for him will help towards the costs of making his life more comfortable.
The service by Vandevander to his country was indeed remarkable, and he deserves all the support and compassion he is receiving.
Such warm-hearted and kind people like the Blackbirds are much needed in today’s world.
Watch the video below: